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Kindle ruins English literature with crazy new plan to publish the slush heap

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Showing 126-150 of 483 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 17:24:07 GMT
Annie W says:
'..not everyone with an active imagination and flair for writing can afford professional proof-readers to edit their books' - they really don't need to; why don't they just use their spell-check facility (or even a dictionary), and, rather than proof-read the book themselves (since you usually only see what you think you've written), get a friend to do so instead.

I would have thought it a matter of pride in any author that their work was produced to the highest standard they could achieve, and it's absurd to suggest that imagination and flair excuse shoddy work when basic editing is available free on the very machines used to create their literature (although that is, in many cases, a very generous term for some of the outpourings. You can be extremely talented, but, if the number of errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation are high, a lot of readers will give up regardless, long before the tale is told. Every spotted mistake pulls the reader out of the story; the frustration of each subsequent error frustrates exponentially, and there's a very good chance the reader will delete the story without finishing it - and leave a review accordingly.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 17:37:52 GMT
Annie W says:
Very true, but, personally, I'd rather read a well-edited, brilliantly proof-read book full of good ideas. The difficulty seems to be finding that combination.

I'd love to think your final sentence is true, but I'm not sure how that fits in with, for example, the multitude of reviews I've seen saying how bad the 'Fifty Shades' novels are reputed to be.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 17:59:03 GMT
That's an excellent point about news reports and also about looking at successful authors and trying to work out what that 'fairy dust' is that separates them from us!

OK, at the risk of replying with War and Peace. I read the DaVinci code and Digital Fortress and I enjoyed them. There may well be problems with Dan Brown's style but nothing that distracted me from the story. He's a very easy read, too, has the gift of writing a page turner which isn't easy. The story of DaVinci code was imaginative and interesting - to me - and seemed well researched... I'd not really call it a thriller, it was a fantasy, based on a grain of truth, which, again I liked. The writing may have been bad - I don't know - but it was honed. 50 shades I didn't enjoy, I really wanted to find out what happened but the writing, which appealed at first, became quite repetitive. One of the things I like in writing is the different ways people can come up with to say the same thing. To me, the greater the variety the more texture it has. E L rather sidestepped that one, and so, for me, the result was like hearing the same note played again and again. Got a bit monotonous.

That's kind of aside really, what I'm getting round to saying is two things. I haven't really forumlated these thoughts so forgive me if it's unclear but... here goes.

First, putting aside all these other factors, I'm not sure how I can change my attitude. I try to be open minded but when it comes down to it, the books I write are for me and people like me. So I deliver the kind of product that I, personally, would expect. It doesn't mean it's wrong to do it the other way. It doesn't mean I look down on work produced another way. It just means that to sell a book with conviction I have to believe it's 'good' by my personal definition of the word - although I have a form of dyslexia so my definition is pretty loose.

However, I wouldn't go to a restaurant if the chef couldn't fry an egg. I would feel a bit put out if I bought some shoes which fell to bits the first time I wore them. In the same way, if I pay money for a book I do expect basic standards and obviously, if I'm selling a book, I expect it to adhere to the same standards I'd expect. We're not talking a work of art here, just basic competance, being able to spell, characters having the same name throughout the entire story, not having people waking up in summer when they went to bed in a snow storm the night before... that kind of thing. I also try to ensure my novels have decent cover art work.

In short, the ethical argument for me (my ethics don't suit everyone but I live by them) is that I shouldn't foist something on anyone that you'd be disappointed with yourself.

The second part of my attitude is purely mercenary, trying to minimilise the prejudice. The all-self-published-books-are-rubbish stigma is a pain.

It's possible that the reason I write is relevant here. I write because nobody has written the kind of book I want to read. So I've had to. That, in a nutshell, is why I do it. There is no other reason. I want it to sell because I like the story I've written and I want to share it with other people. I want them to be as into it as I am. I could give it away but I want them to read it, not store it on their Kindles for a few years and then delete it. To share it, I have to sell it. To sell it I have to get it though that glass ceiling of hyper critical gatekeeper readers... mainly because I don't have the time or in-depth knowledge of the internet to do it another way.

So... please don't think I'd consider myself above reading anything, or consider myself 'literary'. I have a form of dyslexia so I am very much not and I'll give anything and everything a go. However, I do have basic quality standards.

I think I'm right in saying that most of the guys we are chatting with here wouldn't touch my book with a barge pole. It's not their genre, their scene or their style - correct me if I'm wrong there everybody. So actually, I really can't tell you if it would measure up to the levels being discussed on this thread. Very likely it wouldn't! ;-)

"I don't have the answers. I've a keen interest in understanding how stuff works, or doesn't. " Amen to that. sounds like a thoroughly sensible attitude.



Posted on 1 Jan 2013 18:03:24 GMT
And now having posted my huge essay I find more replies... Michael and Will, what you say about dialogue and strong character voices, I'm with you there, too. I've never knowingly accepted edits to the way my characters talk. Mwah ha hahargh.



Posted on 1 Jan 2013 18:26:58 GMT
M. Dowden says:
MTM, what you say about writing what you would want to read is a very valid point. Sarah Waters said that about Tipping the Velvet, and I would think that it is what the vast majority of writers do. There has always been snobbery as such in the literary world and sometimes I think it has more to do with jealousy. You get certain authors looking down on others and their writing, but if you look at their sales you have to wonder is it because something that isn't perfectly written is a better seller. We all read books that appeal to us as individuals so there will always be differences of opinion, which is a good thing - imagine a world where we all only liked the same things, it would be so boring.

I once had a really madcap and scatterbrained girlfriend. People laugh when I tell them about her exploits, but you could never write them down as high literature, it would take away some of the humour. I have shelves of books and numerous books on my kindle, and I love the classics, but at the same time I can't really ever get enough of the old pulp crime tales from the US in the 20s-40s. At the end of the day it isn't the merits or such of the literature of a story, it is whether people enjoy it or not. And at the end of the day it is more the pulp end of the market than the higher end that sells the most books. A good story is a good story regardless of the style or accomplishment of the actual author.

Posted on 1 Jan 2013 18:31:17 GMT
Surely its simply around the reader making an informed choice, because its on kindle doesnt mean they have to buy it. As for publishers many of the companies nowadays are too interested to back the sure thing such as Katie Price writing about yet another chapter in her mind numbing life. The fact remains a book may have come through the more traditional route but be complete tosh and its almost getting to the point that these books are taking over from the novel where at least someone has tried to be imaginative. Im of the belief that there are novels out there that i dont like but i must admit i dont slate them because having written a novel i dont have the opinion like some that it is an easy thing to do. I will always give feedback if asked but will try to be construction, i find the attempt by some published writers to set themselves on a higher pedestal a little tedious. I am a published writer but that doesnt mean that i am a better writer than many who self publish, i have read some wonderful stuff by unknown authors. Long may it continue.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 18:58:00 GMT
MTM, I read your opening chapter sometime ago - There's nothing 'wrong' with it. However, you appear to be obsessed with craft, so here are some quick observations.
(1) Overuse of the verb 'to be'. Bearing in mind the unfolding events it's all a little passive.
(2) You struggle to get a firm grip on the POV. After the initial 'he thought' you fail to take the opportunity to use the character's POV. Subsequently the narrator is telling us the character's thoughts rather than the character himself.
(3) You mention 'the weather' almost immediately (not recommended) because if you do a technical critter is gonna look for you to slip up. In the opening 'gale force winds and hailstones are battering the building.' When the character leaves the building you state that the sills are dry and the character seems unaffected by the winds.

No doubt you'll get lots of views on your work just so as people can disagree with me!

Posted on 1 Jan 2013 18:59:50 GMT
I wouldn't mistake a popular author for a pulp one. Raymond Chandler wrote crime novels, but he wrote sentences F. Scott Fitzgerald would have been proud to set down. Dan Brown never will.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 19:01:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jan 2013 19:23:47 GMT
Willber G says:
" '..not everyone with an active imagination and flair for writing can afford professional proof-readers to edit their books' - they really don't need to; why don't they just use their spell-check facility (or even a dictionary), and, rather than proof-read the book themselves (since you usually only see what you think you've written), get a friend to do so instead."

I feel I must disagree with this. There is more to proofreading than identifying gross errors, and the rules with regard to grammar and punctuation can be complex in certain areas. There is really no substitute for professional proofreading if you want a professional result, which can, as mentioned, make all the difference in the perception of the reader and hence the success of the book. You only have to read the number of complaints about poorly produced books on the Kindle forum over the past couple of years to see how readers regard this subject.

Coincidentally(!) I am a professional proofreader and I offer a free edit of a 10 page sample to all independent authors. As a freelance my rates are very competitive. If anyone is interested please see my profile for contact details.


ETA: I fully agree with the second paragraph of your post.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 19:11:44 GMT
Can you tell the difference between a living author and a dead one?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 20:51:49 GMT
Dan Holloway says:
I think the real difference is that a lot of the dreck that was published by dead authors has lid silently away to Davey Jones' where it belongs, so we get a skewed idea of the quality of writing from previous eras.

In terms of contemporary dead authors (Foster Wallace and Bolano being prime examples) it's often very easy to tell - they're full of slightly awkward structuring that goes hand in hand with a shedload of footnotes

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 20:56:11 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
Find much to agree with in this post. Like M. Dowden, I read a lot of what might be regarded as "pulp" fiction and with these I'm certainly not looking for literary masterpieces; just want entertaining escapism that's fun to read. However, if a book is chock-full of basic errors; if the prose is written in a very clunky fashion (which makes it harder to read) or is just plain dull, it won't be fun to read. That's why I think any book will benefit from decent editing; provided the base material is sound, polishing and refining will usually make it much more enjoyable for the reader. I quite agree that it is possible to over-edit; that's why as a skill it can be as important as the writing process itself, but I don't think there is any book that won't benefit from good editing.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 20:58:49 GMT
The difference is usually a death certificate, Michael.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 21:47:26 GMT
Interesting. I'm not sure where you get the idea of 'obsession' from. If you knew me at all you'd realise how funny that is.

Haven't noticed the 'to be' thing. So I'll have to go look ditto re POV. Seemed very firm in my head, doesn't mean I've put it across.

Dry sills as in old wood. So, 'wet' wood is still green and full of sap. It's difficult to light and and burns slowly, even when it hasn't been rained on. 'Dry' wood is old wood, containing no sap, such as the wood furniture, windows etc is made from. Because the sap is dry it burns well and fast, even waterlogged it's more flammable than 'wet' wood. And of course, it's covered in flammable paint. Esoteric, perhaps but it works for my audience; me. Should also work for anyone who has grown up with an open fire or seen a house burn down since it's written from my experience of both.

Weather. Hmm... I appreciate that in modern literature you are not meant to mention weather conditions at all but I quite like knowing what the weather's doing in books and all I can do, if I want my work to be genuine, is write books I'd like.

So there we are.



In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 21:51:14 GMT
You don't need to explain. They're just my observations. What do I know?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2013 22:01:06 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jan 2013 22:03:39 GMT
Bless you, I know but I always feel I should. I meant to say, thanks, too. I like feedback. I'll check these things... We are all different and different people like different things in books. Edited to add, there should be room for all of them.



In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 00:42:37 GMT
greymouse says:
I'm always puzzled why it should it matter what most electronic offerings are like. Readers aren't required to waste their time with any that don't meet their own personal standards. They can restrict their browsing to authors they already know, if they wish; they can search exclusively within the "Books" category, and only look for Kindle editions once they've found a specific author or title of interest. No one is required to examine everything on the shelves.

I do agree that there's much to be said for the vetting system that has long existed in the world of traditional publishing. It's undeniable that there are built-in quality control mechanisms. But there are ALSO some serious built-in constraints, that have little or nothing to do with quality and everything to do with marketing considerations. There's increasing focus on products adjudged to have the widest potential market appeal, for example--a corporate concern primarily motivated by the desire to maximize profits. This isn't something that automatically produces the best or the most interesting literature--particularly if you happen to be among any class of readers whose tastes, interests, or expectations differ significantly from the norm.

Most of that I've said from the perspective of a reader. I also happen to be a writer. As such, I've welcomed the opportunity to put my work directly before the public, where it can rise or fall based entirely on its own merit. For any author of genre fiction, submitting work through conventional channels involves dealing with a tiny number of first readers and editors, who are essentially that genre's designated or self-appointed gatekeepers. While I hold the majority in high regard, I don't automatically agree with their every decision. I'm not convinced that they're infallible when it comes to deciding what will or won't find a receptive audience. I'm delighted to have an opportunity to allow readers to decide that for themselves.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 01:05:33 GMT
greymouse says:
Strictly speaking, of course, the topic is English literature. I suppose some might argue that American fiction is a far more difficult thing to ruin. *S*

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 11:30:56 GMT
M. Dowden says: I know someone who won't read any book by an American author, and I mean anything - not even those American authors whose work ranks as classics.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 11:38:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jan 2013 11:50:58 GMT
"By publishing on KDP, writers are asking for money, not just opinions, and that is a different ball game."

I agree, Tricia. It isn't the only reason, but it is one of the reasons I decided to stop writing at the end of 2012. I won't be removing my books, short stories and poems from the marketplace, but I won't be writing any more stories or poems. I wrote my first novel in 1998, and maybe I should have stopped upon its completion. Well, I did stop, but I started again in 2002 and have continued writing ever since. It has taken me ten years to realise that perhaps I should make better use of my time. So I will.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 17:57:30 GMT
Greymouse, I do have some issues with the quantity of ebooks now being released. I have no problem with those (almost certainly inluding myself) who simply could do better: but we also have those authors who 'scrape' their work, and those who are so eager to get a book out there that they are not prepared to put any real effort into writing something worthwhile. And those books compete on a completely level playing field with every author who is trying to produce a decent book. As many readers do not want to waste their time (and why should they?) trawling through a million pieces of dreck to find a few gems, their activities actually hurt the rest of us by burying our books amongst the nonsense.

And I'm prepared to stick my head over one particular parapet - I don't care about the excuses I hear: no author should feel justified in publishing anything unless they have had it independantly edited first. Where is their pride in their work?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 18:16:03 GMT
Will, just because you don't have the confidence to put work out that hasn't been 'sanctioned' by a party who you believe has some form of expertise, why should you insist others follow your route?

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 18:18:08 GMT
"no author should feel justified in publishing anything unless they have had it independantly edited first."


We independently fail to see our own mistakes.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 18:22:27 GMT
Michael, there you go, arguing against yourself again...

Editing isn't an independant 'sanction or approval' but a tool for the writer to use, much as a word processor or a typewriter.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 18:33:45 GMT
"Editing isn't an independant 'sanction or approval' ..."

Do you read as well as write, Will?
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Initial post:  27 Dec 2012
Latest post:  16 Jan 2013

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